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Home > Hardware Reviews > Mobiles

Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Palm Treo 700wx Review

2. Design, Functionality

What’s New:

Well, it depends on what we are comparing it to. Windows Mobile is new to the Treo line and there are huge differences between the Windows Mobile operating system and the Palm OS. The Treo 700p uses Palm Garnet Version 5.4.9.

What is new, compared to the Treo 650 line is the upgrade of the camera to a 1.3 mega pixel camera as opposed to a .3 MP VGA camera, Bluetooth 1.2 (instead of 1.1), a memory boost to 128MB with 60 MB user accessible and the use of Sprint’s Powervision EvDO High speed network. I'll deal with each new change in the appropriate context within the body of this review.

The function buttons at the top of the keyboard area also different on the 700wx. There is a dedicated Green and Red button for placing and ending phone calls. The “home” and “menu” buttons on the Palm based Treos are replaced with a “windows Start” button to the left of the D-pad and an “ok” button to the right of the D-pad. Two “soft” keys - which handle menu commands and other feature commands, are on top of the D-pad.

Design:

The Treo 700wx looks just like the 700w which looks just like the 700p (you get the idea.) The edges are rounded on the 700wx. The case is a very nice Charcoal Grey with Chrome faceplate and highlights. The rocker switch on the left hand side (on 650 models) has been replaced with two buttons for adjusting volume up and down. The small button under those two how activates the included voice recorder.

The Display is a huge disappointment - just like the 700w, which is 240 x 240. For some reason (and it has been explained all over the web) this version of Windows Mobile can’t handle 320 x320 on a square screen. The Motorola Q and T-Mobile Dash (which use the Smart phone OS as opposed to the full Pocket PC OS, are also landscape 320 x 240 screens.)

The D-pad is now “squared off” as are the buttons on the keyboard. It felt to me, like there was “more real estate” on these buttons making them easier to use and type on.

The “silence” button is still on the top - but, unlike the 700p, when you move it from sound to silence - it does not vibrate once to confirm this. Everything else looks just like the Treo 700 line except the “Access Powered” logo on the back of the 700p is missing and this version just says “Sprint.”

After spending four months with the “Q,” I will tell you that this thing feels like a brick. While it is no heavier than the other 700 models or the 650 - next to the “Q” and the “Dash” this thing feels heavy, cumbersome and obtrusive in the pocket.

Phone Features/Function:

Depending on your lingo or what you read, the Treo is a “Smartphone” with a touch screen - for many people that means it is a “phone” first. As a phone, there are several important areas of importance to look at.

Call Quality:

I found the call quality on the 700wx to be pretty much equal to the 700p and a notch above the 650. Volume in the headset was certainly loud enough. When used as a speakerphone, however, the tiny speaker started distorting at higher volumes. This didn't affect my ability to hear the caller - it was just not “crystal clear.”

Placing calls is straightforward and easy. Hit the “phone” button and either dial numbers or navigate (using the d-pad) to the “type name or number box” on the home screen. You can also press the right “soft”key and select the contacts buttons. Calls go through very quickly and sounded very clean through the Treo itself and also through the Bluetooth devices I tested. (More on Bluetooth on the 700wx later in the review.)

When a call comes in, a picture of the user (if you have stored the contact with a picture) along with the caller ID shows up on the screen. You now have the option of answering (with the left soft key,) ignoring (sending to voicemail) or responding immediately with an SMS message instead - both of these options appear when you press the right soft key. This is particularly useful if you are in a situation where you cannot talk - but you need to respond to the call.

All calls are stored in your call log for easy retrieval at a later time.

The Top of the Phone screen shows you your battery life, signal strength, the time, Start button and whether you are connected to the EvDO Network or the slower 1X network for data. Right underneath this is the GPS location feature and Bluetooth status icon.

Bluetooth:

The Treo 700wx ships with Bluetooth 1.2 - an incremental improvement over 1.1 which was standard on the 650. I paired the 700wx with various Headsets and Carkits with no trouble. The Bluetooth connection held for close to the 30 feet away from the phone as the manufacturer claims and call quality was as good as or better than using the same headset on the 650.

Bluetooth peripherals like GPS devices were also easy to connect and use. I was also able to “Pair” the 700wx with my computer and use Bluetooth to send and receive files as well as perform a Bluetooth Sync with the device. The pros to this are that it is quick and cool - the con is that it is much slower than using the included USB cable.

The buzz on Bluetooth 1.2 is that it supports a true “Hands Free” protocol. Most Bluetooth 1.2 phones can use voice tags and voice dialing from a Bluetooth headset. This feature worked like a charm on the 700wx.

The other advantage to Bluetooth on the 700wx as opposed to the 700p is that Windows Mobile supports multiple Bluetooth connections. That means that you can pair the 700wx with your Car Kit and your Bluetooth GPS and both operate simultaneously - Hallelujah!

Camera Features:

The 700p ships with a 1.3 megapixel camera - a huge improvement over the old VGA camera. Pictures were sharp and clear. From the camera screen you can easily navigate to your library, or activate the Video recorder. There is a 1x and 2x zoom feature on the camera but no flash is included. The zoom can be operated via the D-pad. When you press the right soft key you have lots of options available; mode, brightness, resolution, zoom and then even additional options.

There is a self portrait mirror on the back. You can easily store or view your images on an SD card (not included) or in the main memory of the Treo.

One of the great features of an integrated device is the ability to easily email the pictures you take. I was able to use this feature effortlessly as I was on the 700wx.

The included video recorder was somewhat of a disappointment - as are most vide recorders on cell phones. The resolution is supposed to be 352-by-288 videos at 13 FPS - but is sure didn't look that way in real life. You can also choose 176 - by -144 for lower quality and smaller videos.

Email/Messaging

Email:

Certainly one of the draws to a converged device is the ability to quickly get email and access the web. The included Outlook Mobile POP3/IMAP mail client now is able to sync e-mail and contacts with Microsoft Exchange 2003 servers. Mobile Outlook can automatically opens Microsoft Office and PDF files as attachments. The 700wx includes a link to Good's GoodLink corporate e-mail system and Sprint's own Business Connection e-mail. Both of these can be configure for “Push” email technology which makes the Treo act very much like a “BlackBerry.”

I found it very easy to configure each of my four email accounts - a mixture of both POP and IMAP accounts.

Messaging:

The separate SMS/MMS app was a joy to use with the QWERTY keyboard. You can easily send text messages and attach media of all sorts. You can’t have the clean, threaded, conversation-based view like on the Palm OS - but you do get a picture of the contact sending the text.

My gripe with Windows Mobile is that you have two extra pushes to get to text messaging. You have to either select it with the right soft key and then hit the left soft key, switch accounts from email to texting - or navigated down to messaging on the home screen and follow the steps above. No one button texting on this baby.

The Treo can easily configure separate tones for messaging so it is clear when you have a text as opposed to an appointment or a voice mail.

Web:

The Treo 700wx is able to take advantage of Sprint’s Power Vision Network.

PowerVision on the 700wx was a mixed bag.

The Good:

PowerVision is extremely fast (if you are in a PowerVision coverage zone.) I live on an Island near Boston - while I can sometimes get the full advantage of the Power Vision network on my “Q” - I had less luck with the Treo 700wx. When I did get it - it was very, very fast.

The Bad:

More often than not, I was not able to access the Power Vision Network and utilize its full capabilities. The real disappointment was that unlike the 700p - there was not link to to Sprint TV, Sirius Radio and the other power vision features so easily accessible on the 700p. You can use the included On Demand program from Handmark which is bundled with the 700wx - but it lacked some of the multi-media content found on the Palm OS counterpart.

Music and Streaming Video:

Music is handled with the Windows Media Player - version 10. This integrates seamlessly with your PC - especially is you have a media center edition of the XP operating system .

Streaming Video is also possible with the Windows media player. Video streams were clearer if I used third party applications like the Core Pocket Media Player.




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